Advent: Day 19 – Thursday, December 21, 2023

Oh sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth!
Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts!
Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth!

Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.”

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the LORD, for he comes,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness,
and the peoples in his faithfulness.
Psalm 96

Psalm 96 emphasizes that the Lord is deserving of our praise and adoration. It is in this recognition of the Lord’s majesty, goodness, and holiness that the Psalmist urges us, especially in this period of Advent, to sing his praise “among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.”

The meta-narrative of Advent is the believer’s recognition of the dynamics of giving that defines this aspect of our Christian lives — that God Almighty has given mankind a precious gift for our salvation, and that the gift in turn presents us with another gift, his own life. This double sense of giving that constitutes Advent must be predicated on reciprocity — the willingness of the receiver to prepare their hearts and make space for the gift to dwell in us. The concept of Emmanuel, God incarnate and dwelling among us, will only be meaningful when we create the space for him to abide with us and to do so “in the splendor of his holiness.” 

It is equally important for believers to appreciate the fact that Advent prefigures Calvary in the same way that the Resurrection foreshadows his Return. We celebrate Advent in anticipation and appreciation of the cross — the gift that the gift will give us for our salvation, and the anticipation of his return when the kingdom of heaven will come down to earth. 

And so as we anticipate the birth of our savior, let us be reminded that salvation occasioned by the shed blood of Christ transcends geographical borders, social categories, and every form of human classification. The Good News is that he died for Jews and Gentiles alike, so that by the Great Commission, we are required to spread the word, praise his name, proclaim his salvation, and declare his glory “among the nations [and] among all peoples, until he comes again in glory “to judge the earth.” Until then, “Let the heavens rejoice, [and] let the earth be glad.”

Dr. Ernest Cole is the John Dirk Werkman Professor of English at Hope College.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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